Monday, April 23, 2018

NewsNotes 4/22/2018

The good weather finally arrived (albeit at the end of the week!). I hope for anyone who was running (or watching runners) during the Boston Marathon you were able to navigate the terrible conditions safely. At the Nardelli household we had a fairly low-key week. We spent a lot of time in the yard collecting branches, raking, cutting down limbs, and doing general cleanup. We also tried to do a couple of excursions…Hiking locally, bowling, Blue Man Group, Urban Adventure Park (trampolines, climbing walls, etc.) Overall, it was a good opportunity for us to recharge and get ready for the home stretch.


Recap of NNHS Student Visit - On the Tuesday before break, a group of 18 Newton North High School students came to talk about their experiences attending Newton Public Schools as students of color. As a staff, our hope was to learn about their experiences so that we can have better insight into attitudes and practices that could either promote student connectedness/achievement or serve as a barrier. Below is a sample of the questions we asked:
  • What would you like our staff to know about your experience as a student of color?
  • What forms of racism of racial bias have you experienced in the Newton Public Schools?
  • What have staff members done to help you feel connected with your school?
  • How do you think elementary schools can better prepare students for middle and high school?
Students shared a variety of heartfelt opinions. Here is a small sample of some quotes:
  • “I never had a teacher who looked like me”
  • “I spent a lot of time pretending to be someone else.”
  • “I was always worried that kids would make fun of the food I brought to school."
  • “I never got to see an Asian protagonist in any of the stories we read until high school.”
Here is some of the advice they had for us:
  • Show us that you care: get to know us, make eye contact, shake our hands, remember our names.
  • Help kids speak for themselves about their experiences and feelings.
  • Push us to be better; expect high quality work.
  • Expand the perspectives represented in the curriculum, in the stories we read, in the music we hear, and in the celebrations we honor.
Sodexo Future Chefs National ChallengeA few months ago, students were invited to participate in a nationwide cooking competition called the Future Chefs Challenge.  These competitions took place in a number of schools and districts across the country, including Newton.  I am thrilled to share the news that Erica Sato, current 3rd grader in Ms. Rosen's class at Horace Mann, was recognized as the 1st place winner for the city of Newton.  In addition, Eric's entry was selected as one of the top 5 entries nationwide.

Erica is now competing with the other four entry winners.  You can see a video of Erica and her meal and also submit a vote for Erica beginning tonight!  Please click on the link below:

New Mural - As part of our effort to represent and embrace the diversity in our school, we have begun to create a colorful display with a Poetry Tree mural outside of the art room on the 2nd floor.  The goal of the mural and the tree is to create a display that reflects the diversity of our school.    Oe part of this is to display poems from around the world on a rotating basis.  To get started, we would like to collect samples of children’s poetry that is important to your family, or poems from your families’ cultures.  We would love to have representation from well-known poems and poets from different countries and in different languages.  Here are the steps to follow:
  • Find a poem and share it via email ( ) or send in a hard copy (to Rose or  your child’s teacher).  
  • Please provide the name of the poem and the name of the poet, if possible.
  • If you provide a poem in a language other than English, we kindly request that you provide a translation, if possible.  
  • We will also be sharing pictures of the poets.  If you have pictures of the poets available and can share them that would be great, but it is not imperative.  
  • Feel free to share with us why this poem has special meaning to your family. We’re looking forward to reading what you have to share!    

Announcement from the Student Assignment Working Group
The Student Assignment Working Group (SAWG) has been seeking feedback on seven preliminary scenarios that were released on March 5, 2018.  Feedback received to-date has been valuable and has helped to refine scenarios.  
These preliminary scenarios involve some areas near Cabot including boundaries with Horace Mann, Franklin, Peirce, Burr and Underwood.  Also, the area of the Lincoln-Eliot school district near the Carr building on Nevada Street is impacted.  Some key streets and surrounding areas that may potentially be impacted include:  Adams, Bridge, Central, Prescott, Court, Washington, Parsons, Eliot, Taft, Harding, Morrill, Elm and Cherry.
A final public comment opportunity on the scenarios has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in advance of the Wednesday, April 25th meeting of the Newton School Committee.  School Committee meetings are held in the Education Center, 100 Walnut Street, Frazier Room #210. Agendas will be posted once confirmed. Related documents are posted as soon as possible but no later than the day of the meeting. 
There will be discussion of the feedback received and an update on next steps in anticipation of a planned recommendation in May or June (exact timing to be determined soon).  The recommendation will consolidate the preferred elements in the A, C and G scenarios and will explain the impact on projected school enrollment and capacity going forward. 

MCAS -The remaining test schedule is as follows:
  • Grade 3 ELA - 4/23
  • Grade 3 Math - 4/26 and 5/3
  • Grade 4 Math - 4/25 and 5/4
  • Grade 5 ELA - 4/27
  • Grade 5 Math - 4/30 and 5/2
  • Grade 5 Science  - 5/18 and 5/21


Student Assignment Public Comment
at School Committee Meeting
April 25

Talent Show
April 27

Newton Serves
April 29

Early Release
May 3rd

Visit the entire Horace Mann Calendar at
From the PTO
Please join us on 
Sunday, April 29, from 12:30-3:30,
for NewtonSERVES 
at Horace Mann.
This is a great opportunity for community building through service! Show your children what it means to be a part of our community! We will spend the afternoon working on various projects at the school like spreading mulch and new fibar on the playground.

If you are able to volunteer, please register for the
Horace Mann School project at
(Please note that the city requires that volunteers be 8 years of age or older.)

If you have any tools such as rakes, brooms, shovels, wheelbarrows, garden/work gloves, etc., please bring them with you.

We hope to see you on April 29!

Buy your talent show tickets!
Don't miss this awesome evening of entertainment and talent. Come see your classmates perform! Friday, April 27, Newton North High School. Tickets are $10 each, $25 per family. 

Help us help the planet!
Please bring in your old markers for recycling. There are baskets in the front and back of the school where you can drop them off. In celebration of Earth Day, we will be sending them in to Crayola for recycling. 

Auction Survey Results
Thank you to all who took the time to take the survey.
The results were very positive. The 80s theme was a hit! As far as themes, a different decade and Speakeasy/Casino Royale got the most votes for next year. Keeping the party at North was the definite consensus. People would like to see a combo of online/silent and live auctions again next year.
A lot of the surveys asked for more social events, big and small! Let us know if you are interested in organizing a PTO social event. 

NewsNotes 4/8/2018

Staff News - As some of you know, Lisa Mikus (4th Grade teacher at HM and in Newton for many years) has been in New Jersey for the past two years supporting and taking care of her mom.  At the time, Lisa’s hope was to move back up to Massachusetts and return to Horace Mann. However, due to a variety of circumstances, Lisa has made the decision to stay in New Jersey to continue supporting her mom and re-engaging in her teaching career there. 

I wanted to take a moment to briefly acknowledge Lisa’s career in Newton.  For those of you who know Lisa, you can attest to the fact that we are losing a thoughtful, passionate, and tremendously skilled educator.  Over the years, many students and their families have expressed gratitude for the rich experiences Lisa has provided in her classroom. Lisa’s ability to inspire and foster a love for learning in her students was a gift, and one that she will now bring to a new generation of children in New Jersey...few teachers are able to say that they've made such a positive impression on so many young lives.  It has been a privilege to work with Lisa for the time we had...she will no doubt be missed. Best wishes to Lisa in this new chapter.

MCAS - Testing begins this week. The schedule for testing this week is as follows:
  • Tuesday - 4th Grade ELA
  • Wednesday - 4th Grade ELA
  • Thursday - 3rd Grade ELA
  • Friday - 5th Grade ELA
After the April Break, the remaining test schedule is as follows:
  • Grade 3 ELA - 4/23
  • Grade 3 Math - 4/26 and 5/3
  • Grade 4 Math - 4/25 and 5/4
  • Grade 5 ELA - 4/27
  • Grade 5 Math - 4/30 and 5/2
  • Grade 5 Science  - 5/18 and 5/21

FORJ Meeting - FORJ Event - On Tuesday April 10, we will gather at Horace Mann school at 7pm for our third discussion group this year. We will read Chapter 5 of the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. If you need help obtaining this chapter, please let me know - I have it. Option to also read Chapter 1 for context!
Please RSVP here: Jtca8cPX5UA4wFUn2 and pass it on!
Questions can go to Cedar Pruitt at

SEPAC Update
Tuesday, April 10th – SEPAC Open Board Meeting
Networking starts at 7:15pm; Meeting starts at 7:30pm
Education Center; Room 217

Wednesday, April 11th - Transition to post High School
Education Center; Room 210; 7:30pm
Overview of NPS Transition Services, presented by Jill Curry (NPS Transition Specialist)

Thursday, April 12th - SEPAC Board meets with Karen Shmukler

Placement Reminder -  I have again attached a form that can be filled out electronically or by hand if you wish to provide me with any information that might be helpful in our placement process.  Filling out the form is OPTIONAL.



If you decide to complete the form, please return it to the main office or via email at by Friday, April 13th, 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Assembly Video

Dear HM Families,

At our March Assembly we talked about the importance of struggle, challenge, and failure as it pertains to brain development and learning.  Learning from mistakes is an essential part of helping students to grow (and also to learn that they can achieve goals even when they have failed at something).  

For the assembly, we shared our newest Horace Mann video production titled “Try Everything”

I have included a link to the video here:

This video is private.  To view, use the password: horacemann

After the video, I talked to the students about the basic message, which is:
  1. Sometimes things are going to be challenging (in academics, with friends, learning a new skill, taking a risk)
  2. When things get hard…don’t give up.  Use a strategy, take a break, and try again.
  3. Making mistakes is how learn and how we grow our brains.
  4. Try Everything!

Over the next couple of weeks (and hopefully beyond) students will be asked to reflect on their own mistakes and challenges, along with their use of strategies to overcome those mistakes.  They will then fill out a short reflection sheet for posting in classrooms, in the hallways, or at home.  Our goal is to normalize the idea that making mistakes is actually a good thing! 

Optional Placement Input

Dear HM Families,

During May and June, our staff will begin the process of creating class placements for the next school year.  Part of this process involves getting input from families.  I have attached a form that can be filled out electronically or by hand.  Filling out the form is OPTIONAL, but is a good way to help us with placement.  Also, keep in mind that is form is NOT for current 5th grade students who are moving on to middle school. It is only intended for making classes at Horace Mann.

If you decide to complete the form, please return it to the main office or via email at by Friday, April 13th, 2018

Thank you,
Mark Nardelli